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The Festival of Preservation is Back! A Preview of 2022's Program

March 29, 2022

One of my favorite film events in Los Angeles, the UCLA Film and Television Archive’s Festival of Preservation, is returning to the big screen! This year’s showcase, highlighting 21 shorts, features, docs, TV specials and more, takes place May 20-22.


I’ve attended the fest, which normally occurs every two years, for about a decade now. One thing that always stands out to me, aside from the quality, is the festival's diverse programming. Screenings inevitably range from classic Hollywood fare to documentary and fictional programs alike tackling timely political, social and cultural topics; the breadth of this years' selections is no different. 


In years past, the Archive spread the screenings over one month. The last iteration, in 2019, condensed the celebration into three days, and this year’s event follows the same pattern; the one difference is that last time three full days were programmed, whereas this year’s event begins Friday night and continues for two full days over the weekend. While it’s nice to only have to drive to Westwood two or three times versus 10 times, marathon film fest schedules are rough on me (because: food, sleep, staying seated for so long). So, while I’d ideally love to watch EVERYTHING programmed this year, I’m picking and choosing gems. Check out what I’m most looking forward to below!

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All That Money Can Buy, aka The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)

Walter Huston plays the devil = sold.


Cover Up (1949)

Dennis O’Keefe, who co-wrote Cover Up under the name Jonathan Rix (!), is someone I enjoy watching in noir films, from T-Men (1947) to Raw Deal (1948) to Woman on the Run (1950). With that said, I’m very much looking forward to this Christmas-set noir!  

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Inner Sanctum (1948)

Strangers, trains, murder. No, not the Hitchcock movie. This B-noir evolved from a book series to a radio program and finally to the big screen. I love noir and, sometimes, the lower production quality, the more bonkers these films are to watch, which is what I’m hoping for here. I mean, with that tagline – "Murder clouded by evil... Every second has a heartbeat..." – I think we'll be in for a good time.


The Challenge (1955)

This proposed series was pitched to “present open-ended social dramas to engage audiences and spur discussion,” but only one chapter was ever produced – this one. The Challenge tackles McCarthyism, patriotism and groupthink in 1955, which sounds rather audacious – and it’s definitely the reason the series never sold. Topic aside (which I am extremely curious about), you have Sidney Lumet directing, Rod Serling co-writing, and Jack Warden starring, which makes this a must-see.


Rod Serling’s Wonderful World of Propaganda (1970)

This local series tackled important topics, such as that which this installment covers. Unfortunately, this is the only episode known to have survived. So, as with The Challenge, we basically owe it to TV history to watch. (Also, I’m very intrigued by what propaganda they  covered and how they explored it.)


The Argyle Secrets (1948)

The Argyle Secrets is playing this April at Noir City Hollywood, and my original plan was to catch it there, but then another screening – at the UCLA Film and Television Archive, no less! – bumped it. So, I’m quite glad to have another chance to watch this film on the big screen. To be honest, though, I may have already seen it; the plot reads vaguely familiar. Either way, I’m down, especially with a runtime of 64 minutes!

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Topper Returns (1941)

I haven’t seen the original, but with this cast – Joan Blondell, Roland Young, Carole Landis, Billie Burke, Dennis O’Keefe – I don’t need to know anything going in.


Betty White Tribute: U.S. Steel Hour: “Scene of the Crime” (1962)

Yes to any and all Betty White tributes, please. While I love White in comedies, this TV episode represents a rare dramatic outing for her – one that sounds noir-ish, to boot! That means I'm very, very interested in this one.


The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (1947)

I’m going to go ahead and assume this is one of writer/director Preston Sturges’ lesser known movies, chiefly because I haven’t really heard of it, and I consider myself a fan of his work. (Though by no means an expert, obviously!) I also can't wait to see how comedy icon Harold Lloyd operates in Sturges’ world. I honestly didn’t know Lloyd worked this late; indeed, The Sin of Harold Diddlebock was his first appearance on screen in almost 10 years and would become his final film outing.



Whew, even though the above programs represent about half of the entire 2022 Festival of Preservation lineup, it still sounds like a lot to see across three days. (Here’s hoping that the TCM Classic Film Festival the month before will prep me for marathon screenings again.) Whether I attend everything I’m hoping to see or just a few shows, I’m simply excited to be able to celebrate another Festival of Preservation in person!

thanks for stopping by!

I See a Dark Theater is a website dedicated to classic movie-going—and loving—in the City of Angels. Whether it's coverage on screenings, special presentations, or Q&As around Los Angeles that you're looking for, or commentary on the wonderful and sometimes wacky world of classic cinema, you've come to the right place for a variety of pieces written with zeal, awe, and (occasionally) wit. Enjoy.

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